Bajaj Avenger 180
Bajaj have beat the Marvel Cinematic Universe to an Avenger reboot. Here’s what its all about
Cool, comfortable and affordable. Is it the cruiser you’ve been waiting for?
BAJAJ BROUGHT THE CRUISER form to india with the original, low-slung 175-cc eliminator/avenger 17 years ago; a bike that successfully carved a niche for itself while growing in capacity to 180, 200 and, finally, 220 cc. in late 2015, the company introduced a 150-cc entry-level variant of the avenger, powered by the engine from the pulsar 150, making their attractive cruiser accessible to an even wider audience and increasing the avenger brand’s market reach. Now, two and a half years later, the smaller avenger has come of age, with capacity growing to 178.6 cc courtesy the DTS-i engine from the pulsar 180, and that’s the bike you see splashed across these pages.
at first glance, there isn’t much to visually differentiate this motorcycle from its 150-cc predecessor. the most obvious difference is the redesigned headlight — now featuring LeD DrL along its base, and nestled under an attractive, short fly-screen. the tail section has also been reworked, smartly incorporating the fresh, sleek tail-light and giving this machine a contemporary rear end. the single-pod round speedometer includes a small digital display for odo and trip meters and fits in perfectly with the cruiser theme. other minor changes include a new paint scheme and graphics, the proud 180 decal on the side panel, a padded grab-rail for the pillion, and a textured seat.
throwing a leg over and settling into the low, wide seat, i was immediately in familiar territory. the seat is supremely comfortable, the bars are ideally placed, and the forward-set foot controls are easy to reach without having to stretch your legs out, resulting in an upright, relaxed rider triangle. a small fuel-gauge and tell-tale lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals and battery are situated near the filler lid on the fuel tank in true cruiser fashion, and the ignition is oddly placed just below the tank on the right side, mimicking some harleys/larger american cruisers.
the engine fires up without hesitation, with a gruff exhaust note that is reminiscent of the Pulsar 180. the two-valve, sohc, twin-spark engine makes 17 Ps at 8,500 rpm and 14.2 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm in the Pulsar, but the same unit in the avenger makes 15.5 Ps and 13.7 Nm, again at 8,500 and 6,500 rpm respectively. bajaj claim that this has been done to rein in the highstrung nature of this engine, making it more laid-back and suitable for the cruiser role.
on the move, the engine feels quite flexible, with fifth gear pulling from as low as 40 km/h and all the way up to triple-digit speeds. i found the gearbox to be refreshingly notch-free, and shifts were smooth and effortless in both directions, even when hurrying through the cogs. although i saw an indicated 120 km/h on an open stretch of road, though sustained cruising at these speeds would get somewhat tiring due to the vibrations coming in through the foot-pegs and the seat; the motorcycle and rider would be much happier at 70 to 80 km/h in top gear, where the engine still feels quite smooth and has enough in reserve to execute a quick overtake or two. i did wonder if slightly taller gearing, to allow higher cruising speeds at lower revs, would have helped this bike’s cruiser image.
With a low centre of gravity and that long 1,480-mm wheelbase, the avenger has always been extremely stable out on the open road and, although cruisers aren’t really built to corner, this stability translates into a rock-steady feel through a set of curves. the bike doesn’t really want to tip in at first but, once leaned over, she feels extremely planted and holds her line with minimum fuss. in a bid to improve ride quality over less
than perfect roads, bajaj have increased the travel of the twin shocks to 108 mm from the previous bike’s 98 mm, raising the seat height by five millimetres to 730 mm, and this definitely helps when riding over potholes, even with two up.
With a larger engine comes more power and speed, and the need for increased stopping power. this comes in the form of a 260-mm disc up front, which is larger than the unit on the outgoing bike by 20 mm. the rear wheel continues to get a 130-mm drum and there is still no abs on offer; we feel that it is about time this safety feature made its way into all motorcycles. braking power is sufficient, although i felt bite could be better, and the lever requires a powerful squeeze to shed
speed fast in an emergency. closer to the ground, wheels and tyres have been carried over from the avenger 150; the 90-section tyre on the 17-inch alloy wheel up front and the 130-section hoop on the 15-incher at the rear do a great job and look proportionate on this motorcycle. this rubber consistently provided ample grip and communication under hard braking, and a lot of confidence while cornering.
With competition creeping into the cruiser space, bajaj have nailed it with this update, giving the entry-level avenger a larger heart, a modern face and even incorporating customer feedback to improve ride quality. if you want to cruise along the highway at sustained triple-digit speeds, you might want to look at the elder 220-cc sibling, but for comfortable urban commuting with the occasional weekend ride or out-of-town jaunt, the avenger 180 street makes a compelling case for itself.
New headlight with DRLs adds character
Front disc has gotten 20 mm bigger
Cockpit is ideal for a cruiser
Engine from Pulsar 180 feels right at home here
Rear suspension travel has increased by 10 mm
Redesigned tail-lamp and grab-rail look modern